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tv   Maria Hinojosa One-on- One  PBS  February 27, 2011 8:30am-8:58am PST

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of people who you have focused on in your work that are really, really fascinating. one of them is immigrants, immigrants without a voice, and the other one is the homeless. >> and veterans. >> hinojosa: and veterans. so let's talk a little bit about the work with immigrants. you have... >> they are called the alien staff. >> hinojosa: the alien staff. >> yes. >> hinojosa: which i remember when i first saw it i was like, "what is this?" it's essentially a staff that has... it's carrying... >> it's like a walking stick. >> hinojosa: it's a walking stick. >> it's got a certain symbolic power, like, that's why it's called staff. >> hinojosa: and it's got their memories, it's got their passport, it's got their papers? >> it has plexiglass containers in which you could see precious relices of immigrants that are witnesses to the whole history of this displacement, the documents, memorabilia. objects that they might only want... they don't want to
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explain to anybody, but they want to have them with them. and at the top, there is a video monitor and speaker, and also there is a device from which you could... that records testimonies. so this is speaking, speaking. >> hinojosa: i just love the notion of people kinof carrying their history with them. >> and by their history they're doubled, because those walking sticks speak. so they are... >> hinojosa: they're not only carrying the history, they're projecting the history. >> yes, so once all of this is recorded and edited, and then projects itself from the stick, the owner or the operator of this alien staff might become a mediator between the stick and the people who will approach and, out of curiosity, start listening. >> hinojosa: i want one of those
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alien staffs. but before we end-- we've just got about three minutes left-- i want you to talk about another fascinating project, this one about the homeless. again, you started your career as a designer, as kind of a technical designer of things. then you designed this amazing homeless... >> vehicle. >> hinojosa: ...vehicle that essentially allows the homeless person to sleep in this little vehicle that they can push, that's not a shopping cart that they have stolen from someplace. >> and collect all of the bottles and cans. >> hinojosa: so how many... what happened to the project? >> we sell them. >> hinojosa: and you did this project on the lower east side of new york city. what happened? are there homeless vehicles out there still, krzysztof? >> not right now. but it was a very important attempt to create conditions for those who have homes, homeful people, to imagine that there would be 100,000 homeless vehicle taking over the city,
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because that was the amount of homeless people at that time in new york city. so that's an impossible vision. so in a way it created perception of something that should not happen. >> hinojosa: right. you made the homeless... that's what you did, is that with this homeless vehicle that was really noticable, you made the homeless entirely visible to everyone. >> legitimate members of urban community who work day and night and use proper equipment for it. they are not scavengers. and also they can say something-- how it happened that they became homeless-- if they are asked. it's quite an important attempt actually not to legitimize the homelessness, but to articulate that this is a legitimate problem. >> hinojosa: krzysztof, it seems like what you do is you build these mechanisms, whether they're homeless vehicles or these projections, these instruments that kind of allow
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us to open up that dialogue. >> yeah. i'm creating something in between, an artifice that helps one party to open up and develop capacity to convey, express, very difficult experiences, even if this is an unsolicited act. and the other party to come closer, open ear without also fear of hearing what they hear, or seeing what they see. and so that is a very important process. of course, i start with those who have things to say of which people don't want to hear. so this is the beginning. they are the ones who have to start this process. but without special artifice, artistic and cultural project, such possibility is very hard... situation is very hard to achieve. >> hinojosa: so krzysztof, just
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in the last few seconds that we have left, what is the next big project that you want to leave? >> this is the project that i am still working on. it's hard for me to tell what it is. but definitely i would like to contribute to an understanding, a breaking the wall, between those who know what war is and those who don't. i'd like to continue working with war veterans, returning soldiers and their families, who are actually proper veterans as well. krzysztof wodiczko, thank you so much for your work, and please keep us informed. we want to know. >> i will definitely do so. thank you for inviting me. continue the conversation at wgbh.org/oneonone.
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>> brave new world, the 20th century novelist albert huxley envisioned a future where everyone was kept happy and tranquil with a drug called soma. mr. huxley's brave new world is here, from ritalin to paxil to
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zoloft, people are taking mind-altering drugs in record volumes. not since the '60's have americans popped so many pills. have psycho pharmaceuticals turned us into a zombie nation? or should we just go with the flow and embrace the brave new world of mood control? we'll ask new york magazine journalist ariel levy and washington psychiatrist dr. brian doyle. >> >> if. for such a small if i live to a hundred. if social security isn't enough. if my heart gets broken.
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if she says yes. we believe if should never hold you back. if should be managed with a plan that builds on what you already have. together we can create a personal safety net, a launching pad, for all those brilliant ifs in the middle of life. you can call on our expertise and get guarantees for the if in life. after all, we're metlife. a.d.m. the nature of what's to come. >> welcome. ariel levy, you authored a cover story for "new yk magazine" which we see here "what are you on?" and you described new york today to -- you say sound the alarm, there is a new drug epidemic in town and most of the city wants in on it. in certain circles of new york, it is regular table conversation. we have entered the golden age of self-medication.
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drugs have become like hair products or cosmetics. this is brain styling, not mind altering, and you have a serious point to make there, but what is the extent of what you see going on in new york? >> well, i mean, i think new york is the same town that brought you woody allen and brought you everybody having a psychiatrist. there not a great deal of stigma to being neurotic in new york. it is accepted to the point of maybe being desirable in certain circles. i think now that these medications are more common, new york is the place where people are going to be comfortable with it and going to be open about it. >> you make a point of saying here that this is brain styling, not mind altering. you make a clear distinction between the two, do you not? >> yeah. i think people when they have actual problems like anxiety, depression or insomnia. they take these drugs. they become normal. they don't become drugged out. >> but you're differentiating certain kinds of drugs from very serious drugs, and you can speak
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to this, dr. doyle. >> sure. >> and that, say, schizophrenia. we're not in that category of drugs here, are we? >> it is highly unlikely for people in new york to pop antipsychotics for the fun of it. >> we're not talking about bipolar, are we? >> we end up talking about that, and that's in ariel's article. >> is it a national trend or just in manhattan? i'm sure it is true for washington, but i don't know how true it is representative for the united states. >> let's try a few names here. you have put here on your cover both the condition and the drug that might meet the condition. bumped into ex-girlfriend, viagra. big dinner to organize. ritalin. chewed out by the boss, perk s
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set. n won't take to toilet training, valium. hate to socialize, have to socialize, paxil. time to kick back, vicodin. is that a gray hair? valium? husband wants some space:pin. clonopin. >> had too many cocktails. viagra. what else do we have here. i'm reading a few. got seventh parking ticket this month, xanax. got rejection slip from publisher. vicodin. deadline pushed up, ritalin. always a bridesmaid -- zoloft. i'm almost through. i want to read some more of these. i swear this has never happened to me before.
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viagra. ex is dating a celebrity. paxil. and a few more. so you see what we're talking about here, people just pop these drugs. not only do they pop them, but they trade in them, do they not? >> they do trade them. first of all, i should say we're trying to be amusing. the vast majority of people taking these drugs are taking them because they need them. it is the case that people told me when i wrote this article that drug dealers who deal street drugs will deal prescription drugs and will straight street drugs like cocaine or heroin for the individual prescription drugs. i would like to point out that the people who told me this, if they're trading their prescription drugs to a drug deal forestreet drugs, they already knew a drug dealer. they're already the sort of person who's dealing in a naughty way with substances, so i don't know the problem is with the drugs. i think in those cases the problem is with the people and they would find a way to make trouble regardless.
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>> what we're talking about here is recreational use of drugs, not medicinal use of medications. the biggest problem with these medications that they are severely underused in this country, not that they're overused. they are severely underused. >> underused for medications? >> underused for the conditions that they're indicated for. they're underused for depression and the various kinds of anxiety that burdens so many people, so yes, there may be new yorkers taking these medications for fun, but that's not the way it is for most americans. >> she describes a cocktail party as a pill bazaar where pills are exchanged, correct? >> . yeah. i think a point that comes up with this is that there can be a fine line between medication and recreation. it's not like cancer where you can take a test and either you have it or you don't. there isn't a test to see if you have enough seratonin, which is
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why somebody would take prozac or another ssri. i mean, it's not as black and white. >> it's not likely you have an x-ray that shows you whether or not you have a major depression, but we do have well set out diagnostic criteria for these conditions and people either meet them or they don't. it's not just that these are set by the american psychiatrists. these diagnostics are criteria around the world. we do have diagnostic criteria and people either do or do not have certain real problems. >> one of the strong characters in your narrative here is molly small, and molly small says "i don't think there's anything wrong with something something on flights, if you have a plane for me, there's no reason for me to sit there and freak out the whole time when you could take a clonapin and pass out and not deal with it, because what are you going to do about it anyway? all this face your fear baloney,
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that's so very '80's, and i don't really believe in it, so this is more than recreational uses. this is to relieve, in this illustration, she is relieving fear of flying. >> ariel is talking about both things in her article.>> she is talking about the recreational use of medication, and also talking about entirely appropriate use of medication. a good example is molly small who has clearly been through the wars, uses her medication and uses it appropriately. i don't have any problems with the molly smalls. >> are we as a society, overly anxious? are we fixated on the dark side of life? have our highest officials pounded into our heads that we are in imminent dangersycho phat is the new drug from saddam hussein and usama bin laden, the terror alert level stays elevated with the two lowest levels blue and green never having been used at all. is all of this pushing up the
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demand for psy1ho pharmaceutic pharmaceuticals? we put that question to our guest, but first here are their born, new york city, 29 years of age, single, jewish, democrat, wes leann university, con net cat, ba, english. late night with david letterman, cbs reports researcher, and altogether, six months. new york magazine, intelligencer intern. editorial assistant. book columnist. features writer. co currently author, working on her first book, female chauvinist pig, simon and schuster, free press. hobbies, cooking, traveling, extreme cooking, gym addict ariel levy, born boston, 62 years of age, wife margaret, three children, democrat, harvard college ba, english. ma gill university, montreal,
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m.d.. massachusetts mental health center, resident in psychiatrist, three years. u.s. army, pentagon major, two years. faculty appointments, harvard medical sister, assistant professor, four years. george washington medical school, associate medical professor, georgetown medical school psychiatry, 20 years and currently medical answers,medicy television program, host 8 years and currently. author, 36 articles, four monographs and 204 professional presentations on adult attention deficit disorder, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, psychopharmacology. hobbies, acting, singing, power walking. brian bowls doyle. >> on the words psychopharmacology, you say, ariel, the psycho pharmacologist is the new drug dealer, like a park avenue drug dealer.
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is that how people look upon psychopharmacology? >> that's what one of my sources said to me. that's how she views it. i think that's how some people -- they've taken their attitude that they would have had once towards street drugs and transferred it on to prescription pills. >> you mean, they were taking marijuana in high school and then graduated to coke in college, and now they're into park avenue drugs, and they have a psychiatrist so they have a psycho pharmacologist? >> the girl you're speaking of, that's what she said. >> isn't that true in many cases? >> it's true in many cases. i think what's interesting about that particular aspect is one young woman told me she has been taking adderall. she said one time she tried cocaine and it was horrible, a terrible version of the drug she was prescribed. she said why would i ever do coke? it raises the interesting point that in some cases people have been self-medicating for years.
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they have been taking alcohol to relax, cocaine to jump themselves up, and if these prescription drugs do whatever that job is in a more precise, effective, less dangerous way, i'm not sure that's a bad thing. >> what's the percentage of cases that you see, do you feel that drug usage on the level -- both levels we're talking about, whether they are high powered to treat schizophrenia, which you are not principally talking about here at all correct? >> yes. >> even though thee drugs you ae are talking about do have a limited medicinal effect in getting people through a temporary anxiety period, but we're not talking about clinical depression here. >> we are talking abo clinical depression here. >> but there is a depression that is owning to the loss of a child, which is maddening thing. that's not really what you're talking about. you're talkingbout essentially recreational with some requirement by reason of
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circumstances, and that could be from the outside or the inside. >> well, some of the cases, some of the people i was talking to, they may use that kind of lingo and adopt a cool and casual attitude, but a lot of these people if you really question them, they are severely depressed. they have had a lifetime of depression, and these medicines have altered the course of their lives. even if they are being light about it, the fact is they have healed major problems with. this. >> that's a great point. there's a very good thing in this article, which is that these medications really have become far less stigmatized because most everybody in america knows somebody in their family or among their friends who has taken one or anoer of these medications and their lives are substantially better. >> selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors. ssri. what does that mean? >> what that means├Ěthat these are medications which particularly impact seratonin in the brain, and basically they boost seratonin levels in the
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brain, and when that happens, we've seen that mood improves, anxiety and anxiety falls. >> and you prescribe on the basis of that perceived need in seratonin, correct? you can't diagnose physiologically a low level of seratonin, can you? >> well, you actually can. patients have asked me about this, but i tell them i don't think you would want to do it, because we can do a spinal tap and we can get the spinal fluid level of seratonin and tell whether or not that's low. most people don't want to get a spinal tap to get treated for depression. >> i want to make one thing clear, and that these drugs are are prescribed for a physiological -- correct me if i'm wrong -- deficiency in the brain. is that correct? an imperfection? in the brain? if you had a perfectly functioning brain, you wouldn't need these drugs. >> who has a perfectly
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functioning brain? >> there are people. there may not be many of them, but there are people who are doing just fine. >> so that really, in itself, eliminates a great deal of the stigma, because you're talking about a physiological deficiency, correct? >> yes, and the good thing that's happened is we know much more about what's going wrong in the brains of people who are depressed and anxious now. >> so people who want to continue taking their pills, some of them go off the pills. they experience extreme withdrawl and they also go haywire and they go back on the pills, as molly small describes vividly, right? >> yes. >> so the major lesson that i see here is what is different from old school is that we're talking here about physiology, to some extent? >> i think the big lesson here is if you're having symptoms, see a doctor, and take medicine among other treatment options as a doctor recommends. if you take these medicines the
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way we recommend, you won't get in any trouble from taking them. yes, there are side effects. it's not like they're miraculous, but by and large, if patient dozen as i tell them to, they don't get into trouble. >> what does clonopin do? >> it is the same family of valium, a long-acting version of valium. it is useful for anxiety. it is used for both of those conditions. >> what does ambien do for you? >> knocks you out and puts you to sleep fast. ambien, correct me if i'm wrong, when it says in the physician's desk reference is no one knows why it works t is mysterious. >> it is not that mysterious. it is not in the valium family structurally, but the way it works is just the way valium and clonopin and other medicines in that group work. >> is it addictive? >> is there a physiological compulsion to continue using the
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drug that transcends reasons or transcends any medical inclination, physiologic in its come pulcompulsion? >> there are some people who take ambien for long periods of sometime will not be able to sleep without it. >> are there those who try to force the drug in this fashion that they will resist the sophoric impact and refuse -- >> people use these drugs creatively. people will use ambien and not allow themselves to fall asleep. >> they get into what state of mind? >> hallucinations. some people can't sleep on t it doesn't work for everybody. is there a large black market for these medications? >> i don't know what large mean. there is certainly a black market. >> so there is trading and mixing and matching that goes on among users, correct? >> sure. >> that then is the kick, is it not? >> is it?
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what's a kick? if you're taking it because you want to relax on an airplane, is that recreational or medicinal? at's why i think there is a fine line sometimes. >> and in the introduction to your bios, i raised the question of whether or not there are societal forces at work, which are due impacts psychologically so there is a need to develop. what comes to mind immediately is 9/11. >> absolutely. the use of these medications went up across the nation after september 11 and in the months odirectly after september 11, they went up way more in new york city, double the rest of the country in terms of benzodiazepines and sleeping pills an 6 times as much as antidepressants. >> what do you think the role of external circumstances in inducing needs that are visible because of increasing anxiety?

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